Yesterday Deloitte launched their State of the State 2018-2019 Northern Ireland Report. Sir Malcolm McKibbin, former head of the civil service who has found a new home in the warm embrace of the private sector was on hand at the event to answer awkward questions from the assorted hacks and bloggers.
The key buzzwords at the launch were Strong leadership and innovation, digital transformation and impending cliff edges in public sector services.
From the Press release:
Northern Ireland must rethink how public services are delivered to overcome the challenges ahead
– Strong leadership and innovation are both needed to materially improve quality of public services
– New technology and smart cities are examples of proven options for the future
The actual report is an essential read, it is a great summary of the current state of play across all sectors of NI. It is a good wake up call on the perilous state we are in. I was tempted to title this post 728 Ways Northern Ireland is screwed but I am trying to cut down on the negativity. The report author Ed Roddis is a nice chap and he has made sure to make the report readable by using lots of short sentences and plain language to get the points across. The report is nicely laid out with lots of nice photos to distract from the doom-laden content, download the PDF version here.
Here is a flavour of the type of content:
The NI economy has not grown over the past four quarters compared with growth of 1.5% in the UK and 8% in the Republic of Ireland (ROI).The NI Composite Economic Index (NICEI) shows that economic activity has actually decreased by 1.0% over the year from Quarter 1 2017 to Quarter 1 2018. It also shows that the UK has had a shorter downturn and a faster recovery than NI. Productivity growth also remains significantly below the UK average (17%) and is the lowest in the regional rankings alongside Wales.
The report generally has lots of sensible rational ideas. The issue is we don’t tend to do sensible and rational very well in Northern Ireland. Emotion and inertia are more our thing. Take the ‘Strong leadership and innovation’ message, these are not terms you would normally associate with our political or public sector leaders.
The report is also heavy on the cliff edge for public services warnings. I know where they are coming from but Northern Ireland has been on a cliff edge for the past 50 years. It is like the boy who cried wolf, a Nolan show cliche. We are told every day that services are on a knife/cliff edge, so it is little wonder that the response from the public tends to be a collective shrug of the shoulders. But this time some public services are looking very shaky, if you are a public sector worker of a certain age I would not blame you if your conclusion was to take early retirement and leave the mess for someone else to sort out.
The report is heavy on the digital transformation stuff. My day job is internet work so I know there is a lot of potential in moving more public services online but all these things are easier said than done. The public sector has a massive IT skills shortage as the private sector is hovering up all the best staff. But it just so happens that Deloitte has a massive digital department based in Belfast who I assume are only too happy to take on any public sector IT projects they can get their mitts on.
So to conclude I suggest you settle down in your comfy armchair with a nice cup of tea and a buttered coconut finger and have a peruse of the report.
Edit: The link to the report has been fixed, try downloading it now.